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MOOCs for Professional Development

September 15, 2014 | Susan | Comments (1)

Today, I’d like to share something amazing that has the potential to change the course of your career: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short. 

MOOCs are courses, often offered by top universities, that are available online for anyone with Internet access to take free of charge. This means no hefty tuition fees and unlimited access to courses anytime, anywhere. Many MOOCs are very relevant to libraries and TPL, but before I share a few of my favourites, I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about them. 

An unlimited number of participants can register for a MOOC simultaneously and, in fact, very large numbers of people are often enrolled in any given MOOC. Lectures are pre-recorded and videos are made available, along with additional readings, homework, and quizzes. MOOCs even come with their very own virtual classrooms, interactive discussion forums where students, professors and teaching assistants can discuss course content, ask questions, and provide feedback and support. MOOCs have a start date, weekly deadlines, and an end date. Participants who complete all coursework on time and receive a passing grade earn a certificate, signed by the instructorhowever, many MOOCs are also archived so that those who missed a session can go back and learn at their own pace. 

There are many websites that provide access to MOOCs. A few good ones are: Coursera, EdX, and Stanford Online.

MOOC Word Cloud

If you took a look at the links above, you might have noticed that there are thousands of different courses being offered by hundreds of universities and professionals, in dozens of fields. Added up, that's a lot to choose from! If you're as excited about MOOCs as I am, or would just like to give one a try, remember to pay attention to the following factors before you get started:

  • course description
  • credentials of the instructor
  • affiliated institution,
  • prerequisite knowledge required to enroll
  • course syllabus
  • course duration
  • require workload (often listedas hours of work / week)

To get you started, I've selected a few MOOCs that I thought you might find interesting and subdivided them into four categories: Librarianship, Cataloguing, Management and Makerspaces. 

Librarianship:

  • Changing the Global Course of Learning Open Knowledge, Stanford University. Topics covered include open source, open science, open data, open access, open education, and open learning. They are discussed from various perspectives, including librarianship, publishing, education, economics, politics and more. September 02, 2014 - December 12, 2014
  • Library Advocacy Unshushed Wendy Newman, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Learn how to advocate for libraries so that they continue to thrive for generations to come. Archived.
  • New Librarianship Master Class R. David Lankes, Jill Hurst-Wahl, Megan Oakleaf and Jian Qin, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University. Wondering what the future holds for libraries? R. David Lankes thinks libraries should move away from books, catalogues and buildings and instead adopt the mission statement: “to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities". Archived.

Cataloguing:

  • Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information Jeffrey Pomerantz, School of Information and Library Science, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Take an in-depth look at how information is organized for retrieval in libraries, databases and on the Web. July 14, 2014 – September 10, 2014. Archived.

Management:

  • An Introduction to Operations Management Christian Terwiesch, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The management skills that you need to run any operation, whether a restaurant, hospital, or library, are essentially the same. After this course, you'll look at the workplace with different eyes, detecting bottlenecks, identifying productivity wastes, and coming up with ideas to improve various processes. September 29, 2014 – November 24, 2014 

Makerspaces:

  • Introduction to Computational Arts Margaret Anne Schedel, Faculty of Music, State University of New York. Are you excited about the maker programs at TPL? Why not join the fun and learn some basic image and audio editing, including how to use Processing, Photoshop or Gimp, and Logic or Soundation. August 25, 2014 – December 19, 2014.
  • An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python Joe Warren, Scott Rixner, John Greiner, & Stephen Wong, Rice University. Learning to program in Python can be fun and easy with this group of hilarious and talented professors who know just how to make you fall in love with coding. September 15, 2014 to November 16, 2014.

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